- French drugmaker Sanofi SA announced on Thursday plans to invest €170 million, or about $200 million, into a new vaccine manufacturing facility in France, a move aimed at bolstering its ability to supply seasonal flu vaccines.
- "Our investment underlines Sanofi's intent to strengthen our industrial capacities in France as a major centre of influenza vaccines production for worldwide markets," said Philippe Luscan, head of global industrial affairs at Sanofi.
- The new facility will expand Sanofi's existing Val de Reuil site, which is located about 70 miles northwest of Paris. If all goes according to plan, build out is expected to be completed by 2021 with vaccine production beginning in 2022.
Sanofi has been investing in its vaccine business, which grew by nearly 9% last year to account for roughly 14% of the French drugmakers overall sales.
That growth has been driven mainly by double-digit increases in sales of Sanofi's polio/pertussis and influenza vaccine franchises, the latter of which hit a record high for revenues in 2016.
By expanding the Val de Reuil site, Sanofi said it would be able to increase supply of VaxigripTetra to as many as 70 countries. VaxigripTetra, an influenza vaccine, contains two A strains and two B strains of the virus.
Broadening its reach in influenza has been on the agenda for Sanofi for some time. In July, the drugmaker paid $650 million upfront to acquire the privately held Protein Sciences, gaining access to a recombinant protein-based flu vaccine called Flublok.
Unlike how other flu vaccines are produced, Protein Sciences' platform uses insect cells to manufacture the vaccine protein. Flublok, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2016, is the only recombinant protein-based flu vaccine currently OK'd by the agency.
Sanofi has also been investing in vaccine R&D, listing 16 programs in its pipeline including four programs in Phase 3 development. That commitment to the space yielded the world's first Dengue vaccine, which was approved in late 2015.